The Atlanta Falcons are a shell of what they were last season. With devastating losses at their wide receiver position, the rest of the offense has been depleted as well.
To get a clear picture of what the Panthers need to do on defense, we need only too look at last Sunday and take a quick glance at what the Cardinals defense was able to do.
The left side of the Falcons offensive line played a horrible game. Combined they were responsible for 12 hurries on Matt Ryan. When under pressure, Matt Ryan's QB rating and accuracy quickly plummet. I see a big day for Charles Johnson even with a slight groin pull. I would also keep an eye out for Kawaan Short whose pass rush has been improving week after week.
The Cardinals also smothered Tony Gonzalez the entire game while harassing him on every play. With Gonzalez now the only real receiving threat, the Panthers will be able to double down on his coverage. I expect Thomas Davis to blanket him on the underneaths and the solid safety tandems of Mitchell and Mikell him to smother him on the deep routes. You have to play physical against Gonzo, and these players are up to the task.
Overall expect a typical physical emotionally driven game this Sunday. It may get as ugly as the Rams game or even uglier. These teams have a real disdain for one another... just how we like it.